(a) If there are no dependents, the disbursements shall be limited to the expense provided for in sections three and four of this article;
(b) If there are dependents as defined in subdivision (d) of this section, the dependents shall be paid for as long as their dependency continues in the same amount that was paid or would have been paid the deceased employee for total disability had he or she lived. The order of preference of payment and length of dependence shall be as follows:
(1) A dependent widow or widower until death or remarriage of the widow or widower, and any child or children dependent upon the decedent until each child reaches eighteen years of age or where the child after reaching eighteen years of age continues as a full-time student in an accredited high school, college, university, business or trade school, until the child reaches the age of twenty-five years, or if an invalid child, to continue as long as the child remains an invalid. All persons are jointly entitled to the amount of benefits payable as a result of employee's death;
(2) A wholly dependent father or mother until death; and
(3) Any other wholly dependent person for a period of six years after the death of the deceased employee;
(c) If the deceased employee leaves no wholly dependent person, but there are partially dependent persons at the time of death, the payment shall be fifty dollars a month to continue for the portion of the period of six years after the death, determined by the commission, successor to the commission, other private carrier or self-insured employer, whichever is applicable, but no partially dependent person shall receive compensation payments as a result of the death of more than one employee.
Compensation under this subdivision and subdivision (b) of this section shall, except as may be specifically provided to the contrary in those subdivisions, cease upon the death of the dependent, and the right to the compensation shall not vest in his or her estate.
(d) "Dependent", as used in this chapter, means a widow, widower, child under eighteen years of age, or under twenty-five years of age when a full-time student as provided in this section, invalid child or posthumous child, who, at the time of the injury causing death, is dependent, in whole or in part, for his or her support upon the earnings of the employee, stepchild under eighteen years of age, or under twenty-five years of age when a full-time student as provided in this section, child under eighteen years of age legally adopted prior to the injury causing death, or under twenty-five years of age when a full-time student as provided in this section, father, mother, grandfather or grandmother, who, at the time of the injury causing death, is dependent, in whole or in part, for his or her support upon the earnings of the employee; and invalid brother or sister wholly dependent for his or her support upon the earnings of the employee at the time of the injury causing death; and
(e) If a person receiving permanent total disability benefits dies from a cause other than a disabling injury leaving any dependents as defined in subdivision (d) of this section, an award shall be made to the dependents in an amount equal to one hundred four times the weekly benefit the worker was receiving at the time of his or her death and be paid either as a lump sum or in periodic payments, at the option of the dependent or dependents.
(f) The Insurance Commissioner shall prescribe a form notice to be sent by the commissioner, private carrier or self-insured employer, as applicable, to the dependent with the first payment and six months prior to the last payment of the benefits provided in subsection (e) of this section, that advises the dependent that the benefits will stop as of a date certain. The notice shall also advise the dependent that he or she may be eligible for additional benefits under section fifteen of this article and how to apply for those benefits. The notices shall be written in plain English in a manner that is easily understood by the general public.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2012 1st Special Session